Living Social Justice

A blog about responding to poverty and injustice, everyday and in all sorts of ways

A Few Good Men

In today’s post, Common Good volunteer Roger Wood has something to say to the men of our country and the role they need to play in making a change.

Photo Credit: Architect-Licious via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Architect-Licious via Compfight cc

For too long men have left the fight against violence and the abuse of women and children to the women in our communities.  Women have been the mouth piece, because it is the women who have borne the brunt of the pain and injustice.  Men have stepped back perhaps because they feel overwhelmed by the problem or perhaps they feel inadequate in providing a solution.  Jesus was not afraid to tackle the injustices of the society of His day.  He reached out to the hurting and marginalised, bringing compassion and healing.

So how can we help?

I believe it starts with our own attitude to the people who cross our path every day.  The people at the train station or bus stop, the teller in the supermarket , the receptionist at work, the secretaries, cleaners, telephonist, bank clerks and a whole host of others with whom we interact.  How do we treat these people?  Do we greet them and acknowledge their contribution to our lives?  Do we take an interest in their lives and their opinions?  Do we push in front of them to get our place on the train? Do we offer them our seat when the train is full or do we make them stand? Do we ask the cleaner at work about her child’s education or encourage your own child’s teacher as she seeks to control and discipline a whole classroom full of children?

If we drive to work do we criticise others driving as being ‘typical of a women’. At work do we pass on the stereotypical blonde joke or do we mix with the ‘boys’ rating the attractiveness of the new female assistant?  It’s all a matter of how much we respect one another across the gender line.  We live in a society where words are often used to put women down.  We treat them as inferior and when we see them that way we treat them with less respect.  Younger men are looking for role models and they will follow our example.  We therefore need to look at the example we are setting.  We need to have the courage to speak out and challenge others who adopt these wrong attitudes.

When we see films and programmes on TV which portray sexual harassment, we should write to the relevant authorities or the newspapers to complain.  When we see the magazines on the shelves in our supermarket that portray women as sex objects for men, we should have the courage to complain to the management.  We need to speak out about advertising that is offensive and portrays women in the wrong way.

We need also to look for practical ways of helping those NGO’s and church groups seeking to help women caught in the web of violence and abuse.  As men, we may not be the best ones to go out onto the streets to talk to the prostitutes but we can support organisations such as Staatwerk, by coming alongside the women who go out to talk to these ladies.  We can help not just with money but with encouragement, time and transport.

When we do come across others who we feel are being abused we need to treat them with great sensitivity.  Befriend them where we can, show empathy and understanding.  Encourage them not to remain silent.  Urge them to seek help.  The abuse is not their fault; no one asks to be abused.

Lastly, married men need to be the role models in their homes, honouring and treating their wives as equals.  Men need to talk to their children educating boys in the correct attitudes towards masculinity, as well as teaching their daughters about their rights.  Men have a crucial role to play as fathers, friends and leaders.  They need to be the voice of the oppressed and the hurting.  They need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

Over the past week, we’ve been posting articles in an attempt to facilitate conversation around domestic abuse in South Africa. We’d love to hear your thoughts – please comment, share and get people talking! This is too important an issue for silence.

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4 thoughts on “A Few Good Men

  1. Pingback: A Few Good Men | Free from abuse

  2. Great post Roger. Thanks for your insight into this issue!

    In the Scriptures, specifically Proverbs 31, women are spoken of as having a strength and dignity that so reflects God’s character. Their beauty is a strength that men cannot reflect back to God quite like the way women can. This being said, I think too often men do not find their strength and affirmation in God and then seek to try to drink the beauty of women as if it were some kind of magic elixir that will fix man’s cry for power and a sense of worth.

    I see it in the everyday, small areas that then spiral out into what we have been seeing in the news. Young men pursue women, not necessarily to offer their strength FOR them but to test their strength AGAINST them. A sense of rating if you will. Always wanting answer to the question in their own hearts; “Do I have what it takes?”.

    Men thus seeing ‘Women as objects’ to be conquered becomes a ‘normal’ thing as men can go their entire lives with an incorrect view of where they should be receiving their affirmation and strength. Ultimately the healing of our nation will not come from more directed laws and more police or even gender marches (which are so needed and can be so helpful) but instead healing will come in the form of the transformation of human hearts. If we can have our hearts healed – our actions will follow. If we find the strength and satisfaction we so long for then we can offer that to others to build up not to break down.

    This is where Jesus comes in. He answers the deepest questions of our heart. He satisfies the quest for strength and power in Himself. Do you have what it takes? Well the answer is no – but there is one you does. Jesus can be our source of strength and He can be our source of satisfaction. If we know Him and He gets into our hearts our actions will change, one person at a time, and so the nation will be transformed.

    It may seem like a pipe dream – but I feel like fighting for the transformation of our nation through the proclamation of the gospel is a worthy hill to die on.

  3. Nathalie on said:

    Thanks so much for this very practical article, Roger!
    This was a great article from the Mail and Guardian on this issue…

    http://mg.co.za/article/2013-02-22-00-gender-violence-creating-a-new-normal-for-south-africas-men/

  4. Sometimes just the simple act of speaking up, of shining a light on a person’s attitudes, can make a difference. A couple years back, the now-in-college student I mentor in Joburg would toss off Facebook and Mxit status line comments about women that would never fly here in the US. Nothing violent or degrading, but certainly sexist and disrespectful.

    It took a few times of my pointing out, “Hey, this isn’t cool. You’re better than this. Stop these statements and start being more respectful of women.” And it worked, not only did the sexist language disappear, but he’s written blog posts about respect for women.

    I’m not taking all the credit — college is a factory of social enlightenment and changes in perspective. But my speaking out before he went to college helped nudge him on the path of being a more tolerant and respectful person (which he is in his heart… his attitudes were only reflecting SA society that he grew up in.)

    To co-opt a crime-and-security slogan used here on Boston’s subway system… “If you see something (or hear something), say something!”

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